Presidential candidate of the Labour Party Peter Obi has said that he had funds saved for the Anambra State Government at the end of his tenure because he wanted it to serve as take-off money for his successor, Willie Obiano, and for some federal projects which his administration did not have permission to handle.
Obi’s statement followed remarks by the current governor of the state, Charles Soludo, in which he dismissed investments by his predecessor as amounting to nothing in the context of present realities.
Soludo spoke on Thursday during an interview with Channels TV’s Politics Today when asked about his perspective on the investment of government outside the public sector with reference to Obi as a former governor.
Reacting to Soludo’s comments, Obi said on Friday, “I saved N48,629,473,469 in local currency some of which we tied to specific projects like payment of two-year salary of civil servants we employed for him not to be encumbered, Agulu and Onitsha Hotel, Awka and Nnewi Malls and some critical roads like the completion of the dualization of the Dual carriage road over which we had got permission to do so and be paid back by the Federal Government. We also left some for him to continue what we were doing aggressively.”
On the $156 million (about N27 billion at that time and about N75 billion today when the yields are added), Obi explained the purpose thus: “After our study of the Chinese phenomenal achievements as we were coming to the end of MDGs, we learned that the Chinese Regional governments were able to attract a number of investments because of the ability to contribute or partner with the investors in setting up productive facilities within their regions. For example, some of them effectively made equity contributions of 10-20%, which they were able to achieve due to their robust saving.
“So, our calculation was that if the state would be able to save a particular amount (US$18-20 million) as we did in eight years, up until 2030 at the average interest rate of a little over 6%, we would be able to achieve about a billion Dollars in savings and earnings.
“We would then use about 50% of this amount to attract investments, considering that the average Chinese Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (SME), for example, was set up with about two million dollars.”
Obi added that his goal was that if he could invest 25% in each enterprise, which was $500,000, it would benefit 1,000 SMEs facilities scattered all over Anambra.
According to him, this would jump-start “aggressive economic growth within the state, especially as income from oil is coming to an end.”